Hitler! The Musical

Satirical portraits of Adolf Hitler have been around since Charlie Chaplin's 'The Great Dictator', through 'The Producers', to the Mr T Experience's 'Even Hitler Had A Girlfriend'. So by setting the dark history of the Führer's rise and fall to razzle-dazzle showtunes, TL Musical Theatre are doing nothing particularly new. This isn't the first 'Thing That Shouldn't Be A Musical: The Musical!' to make a Fringe appearance either. I can't say I had high hopes for this show – but it's a lot better than it has any right to be.The music, to begin with, is fantastic: full of great rhymes and expert genre parodies (gospel, R&B, country and western), there's nothing half-arsed about the company's commitment to the format. Choreography of the large cast is seamlessly realised, the use of tokenistic props shows thought and skill, and all the singers have excellent projection and versatility of tone. Two songs in, the company tries to pre-empt concerns of taste and decency by demonstrating that they run all the potentially offensive material past their one Jewish member, who they repeatedly, literally, bash with a mallet. As often happens with this kind of concept, it's quite hard to tell if that's fine; but I think it's fine.Generally speaking they're only rarely offensive without purpose – not that I was personally offended at any point, having a sense of irony, but some audiences may be touchier. The only major misstep was when I heard an audience member responding with an 'aww' to a scene of the dictator's troubled childhood - does this show really want people 'aww'ing Hitler? There's a danger here of making a figure of sympathy out of a figure of fun. What's more annoying, though, is the way that two or three of the between-song speeches appropriate phrases and ideas from other, more famous shows and comedians to get an easy, lazy laugh – the company treat the fine line between referencing well-known jokes and basically just nicking stuff like Hitler treated the border to the Rhineland. Considering the obvious precedent of 'The Producers', it's also possible to see the whole show as an unattributed reference; it's not yet clear how this show responds and relates, if at all, to a better-known version of the same joke. Springtime for Hitler, however, is only ever seen in part, and in full it's clear Hitler! The Musical is doing something different - it seems to be a comment on the glamorisation, the media star power, of criminals and mass-murderers. What it needs to be great, rather than good, is clearer definition and confidence in its tone, and for the script to rely solely on its own obviously funny and talented cast.

Reviews by Richard O'Brien

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The Blurb

‘I'm just your average kid trying to achieve my dreams in this big bad world. It's not easy being a Fuhrer.’ Meet the man behind the moustache in this new musical comedy performed by up-and-coming young professionals.

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